Captain America: The First Avenger

Year: 2011 | Dir: Joe Johnston | Runtime: 124m If I didn’t care about The Avengers in my youthful comic book collecting days, then I cared even less for Captain America. I would write him off as a relatively flat, simple and boring hero that was completely boring to my younger self; it’s no secret that when I pictured myself as a Marvel hero on the playground and in my imagination, it was a Wolverine-esque indestructible mutant with cool cybernetics that pulled from my favourite sci-fi films. Or maybe that was a secret. Either way, I never once picked up a Captain America comic, allowing only his cameos in other books and his depictions in pop culture as my basis for my (poor) opinion. When the film was announced, I did not approach with any excitement save that this was the next entry in the great experiment that was the Marvel Cinematic Universe and a lead in to the properly gigantic Avengers film. So when I came out of the theatre, I gave my head a shake and realized this…

Tremors

The moment I saw that a new 4K, special edition of Tremors was announced and coming out, I was online securing my preorder. It’s not often a film announcement gets me excited, but here I was, plunking down a relatively serious amount of money for a boxed edition of a film that I had honestly kind of forgotten about. Obviously, my childhood love for the film rushed forward and took charge: sometimes there are just those films that spur you to action, and Tremors is – apparently – one of those. Does anyone remember Betamax? The alternative format to VHS in the 80s and early 90s, Beta certainly had a comfortable spot in my families home: the basement television. Along with that top, spring loading player came a library of verifiable 80s movies and dubs, including a deep library of Looney Tunes cartoons, random Godzilla movies, a few films like Firebirds, and of course: Tremors. When that package arrived in the mail the other week, I quickly took in the nostalgia of the films imagery as presented in a boxed…

Underworld: Blood Wars

So in the previous Underworld film (Awakening) we advance the story along by the fact that humans have now discovered that both vampires and werewolves are a real thing, and with that, a number of doors open to some interesting antagonists. But Awakening didn’t even fulfill that, instead using the human factor as a catalyst for the events that went down. That’s fine. What’s not so fine is that Blood Wars completely disregards humanity. With this being the fifth entry, I would have hoped that there was a little more focus and foresight into either ending the series or expanding the world beyond the “simple” war between vampires and lycans. With Resident Evil’s fifth entry coming out around the same time (I think it was in the same month as Blood Wars, actually) I can’t help but draw a simple comparison in our protagonists journey: Alice’s (Resident Evil) story starts off with a lot of mystery and is neatly (and I use that word dubiously) explained and wrapped up the literally titled Final Chapter. Selene’s backstory is seemingly explored to its extent within the first two films and diminishes thereafter in each entry. Instead, those later Underworld movies introduce Selene’s daughter and other…

Red Planet

If you had to choose a movie to aggressively push out the door from the party that was the 1990’s, then I guess it would have to be Antony Hoffman’s Red Planet, starring Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore and Val Kilmer in a perilously blundered trip to Mars. With this much nineties star power fueling the trip, I could see myself and friends eagerly going to see this on a crisp November evening, expecting high stakes sci-fi adventure, featuring the latest special effects and near-future fantasy of humanity’s quest to step foot on our planetary neighbour. Indeed, the poster hints at a silhouetted menace awaiting our crew, as our fearless Kilmer drags his crewmate across the arid landscape toward a multi-legged monster, all drenched in blood red, speaks volumes for intriguing poster design and an action packed thriller at hand.   Just as quickly as I can envision us heading into that theatre, I can imagine the group of us solemnly leaving the multiplex with, scratching our heads, while somebody said “at least we got to see Carrie-Anne Moss topless” while the rest…

Underworld: Awakening

After taking a little break, Kate Beckinsale drops in from a rooftop to fill in the role of Selene again for this series fourth iteration, and I couldn’t be more excited. While I had some fun with Rise of the Lycans, it was ultimately a letdown as it retreads familiar story, so I was eager to pick up Selene’s story for Awakening. As the film’s prologue played out, I tried very hard to stop myself from questioning the direction that the filmmakers decided to take things, and by the end of the film I found surface level overall satisfaction, yet I couldn’t stop wondering if they had done things a bit differently. To be fair, I hate doing that. I hate thinking and advocating that the filmmakers could make a better story, or an entirely different film: I’m no screenwriter (nay, barely a writer at all) so I certainly couldn’t do any better, but that doesn’t stop me from spewing forth some my “better” film ideas. It also makes me feel icky in this day of age where the fandom stumbles into creating online movements toward studios to release director cut…

Elektra

Just two short years after being introduced in Daredevil, Jennifer Garner’s Elektra gets the historical distinction of being the first female-led Marvel movies, but also (possibly) stands as a reason why we didn’t get any more female-driven Marvel movies until Captain Marvel nearly fourteen years later. It’s easy to put the blame on the lack of female superhero movies on the failure of Elektra, but I find it hard to believe there isn’t more going on here: when the MCU really got rolling, there’s no valid reason Black Widow didn’t receive her own starring vehicle and there were plenty of interesting female superheroes to pull out of the X-Men series. The fact is, female representation has always been a bit dismal in the comic book realm, and the race to get these adaptations to the big screen had studios picking the most historically identifiable and popular characters from Marvel’s stables, which unironically come from the 1960’s and are all alliteratively named white men.   That being said, Garner did a decent job – considering the context of the film – in 2003’s Daredevil…

I Care a Lot

There’s a tremendous amount of good and interesting things happening here, including a very rare situation where I found myself standing up (watching this at home of course) and wondering aloud if I could continue the movie. Yes indeed, Rosamund Pike plays the villainous Marla Grayson so perfectly, that I was swept into her abhorrent scheme and found myself questioning if I could endure two hours of this. In this film, Marla essentially – but legally – runs an operation wherein she takes guardianship of elderly “clients,” including managing their money and ransacking their homes to sell their belongings at auction and placing them into care homes where they are effectively trapped. The film does such a convincing job in conveying how frustrating this process is for the family, but just how morally corrupt and blind the system can become to allow such treachery to happen. Perhaps it was just too realistic. It was good, then, that the film took a turn into the absurd, as it introduces Peter Dinklage (playing Roman Lunyov) as the head of some organized crime…

Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

I always had the impression that Rise of the Lycans was a misfire in the Underworld series fueled by the loss of Kate Beckinsale. Maybe I was barely paying attention, but the advertising of the film definitely led me to believe that Kate was in the film, and when I discovered she was replaced by someone who looks pretty similar (Rhona Mitra), that I had lost most of my interest in going to see the prequel. The same thing happened in the previews of the film Doomsday, also starring Mitra and mistaken for Beckinsale, except that I couldn’t pass up Doomsday in theatres and was happy to revisit the film fairly recently to appreciate what a ride it was (and Mitra kicked a ton of ass in that film). This was my first viewing of Rise of the Lycans and I’m still not quite sure why this film exists. Didn’t we cover most of the ground here before in the previous two films?  I always had the impression that Rise of the Lycans was a misfire in the Underworld series fueled by the loss of Kate Beckinsale. Maybe I was barely…

Never Rarely Sometimes Always

In an effort to piece together a somewhat coherent top ten list for 2020 movies this year, I embarked on a short journey to watch a few critically celebrated films that I may had missed. This project had me putting on Never Rarely Sometimes Always, an especially impactful film both written and directed by Eliza Hittman whose tale chronicles the journey of two teenage girls making their way to New York city “to seek out medical help after an unintended pregnancy.” And I can’t tell you why – because I had zero exposure to any element of the film save for the high Letterboxd user ratings and the poster of the film – but I went in expecting a bit of a quirky, if dark, comedy. It does not take long for one to realize how far my expectations strayed from the end product, and I’m happy again that my expectations were upended and the film I did take in was quite thoughtful, emotional and poignant. Sidney Flanigan plays Autumn and gives an incredible performance, with excellent screen presence considering…

Tremors 2: Aftershocks

Certainly nobody, including myself, would have expected anything but the worst from the followup to such a beloved classic film such as Tremors. Indeed, nobody asked for it but here we are, thirty years later and a barrage of sequels that shows no signs of letting up. So, with my one hand buried in a bowl of popcorn and my other hand clutching a king-size soda, I put on Aftershocks with the foregone conclusion that this was going to be bad. As the film started – between mouthfuls of snacks – I found myself scoffing and eyerolling as I bore witness to this train wreck. While Kevin Bacon would obviously bow out of the series immediately, he is replaced by a bit of a Bacon-esque character to join in Fred Ward’s Earl, as the two are tasked with taking out a few of the graboids in a Mexico oil field. And it seems like they got things figured out, until they don’t: Earl and Grady encounter a sick, non-aggressive graboid and in moments, their entire operation is overwhelmed by new,…

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